Creating a Healthy Hotel Workforce

By Lewis Fein CEO, Lewis Fein Communications | August 27, 2017

Of the many challenges hotel executives face, there is another to add to the list: Drug and alcohol abuse within the workplace. The good news is that this is not an insoluble problem. Nor is it one executives can afford to ignore, because a healthy and happy workforce is essential to ensuring a hotel's reputation for excellent service.

The best way to address this subject, then, is by having a treatment center executives can refer employees to visit. That center has the resources and expertise a hotelier needs, so an otherwise exemplary employee does not lose his or her job; so a hotel does not lose an experienced and talented worker.

Access to that center is an extension of the benefits a hotelier should provide, because recreational or habitual use of certain drugs may be a sign – it is a sign – of a more serious set of issues, from difficulties at home to anxieties on the job, from crises of confidence to a lack of self-confidence. It may be easy to terminate that person's employment, but the easiest answer is not always the right answer.

On the contrary, a great employee – even a good employee – represents an investment of time and money: An investment in teaching and training, of formal and informal study, of mentoring and tutoring, of assistance and apprenticeship. That investment is a matter of years, sometimes decades, not weeks or months; it involves a degree of mastery no manual can convey, no seminar can equal, no online course can match, and no book or video can encapsulate; it is confirmation of something more than competency, because it is proof that an employee has both the knowledge and wisdom to do what few can achieve and fewer aspire to accomplish –– to have an intuitive sense of what a guest wants before that person asks for it.

It would be foolish to throw that all away, as it leaves the employee without work, the hotelier without one of his best workers and guests without the best of everything.

Executives first need to invite staff to discuss these issues. At a minimum, there should be a group meeting to clarify that help is available. Make it clear, too, that you have a legal right and a moral duty to safeguard the privacy of your workers.

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Coming up in March 2019...

Human Resources: An Era of Transition

Traditionally, the human resource department administers five key areas within a hotel operation - compliance, compensation and benefits, organizational dynamics, selection and retention, and training and development. However, HR professionals are also presently involved in culture-building activities, as well as implementing new employee on-boarding practices and engagement initiatives. As a result, HR professionals have been elevated to senior leadership status, creating value and profit within their organization. Still, they continue to face some intractable issues, including a shrinking talent pool and the need to recruit top-notch employees who are empowered to provide outstanding customer service. In order to attract top-tier talent, one option is to take advantage of recruitment opportunities offered through colleges and universities, especially if they have a hospitality major. This pool of prospective employees is likely to be better educated and more enthusiastic than walk-in hires. Also, once hired, there could be additional training and development opportunities that stem from an association with a college or university. Continuing education courses, business conferences, seminars and online instruction - all can be a valuable source of employee development opportunities. In addition to meeting recruitment demands in the present, HR professionals must also be forward-thinking, anticipating the skills that will be needed in the future to meet guest expectations. One such skill that is becoming increasingly valued is “resilience”, the ability to “go with the flow” and not become overwhelmed by the disruptive influences  of change and reinvention. In an era of transition—new technologies, expanding markets, consolidation of brands and businesses, and modifications in people's values and lifestyles - the capacity to remain flexible, nimble and resilient is a valuable skill to possess. The March Hotel Business Review will examine some of the strategies that HR professionals are employing to ensure that their hotel operations continue to thrive.